Excitable Boys (and Girls)

How to handle your dog's excitement and avoid conflict.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
August 14, 2013

It’s great how dogs may get excited over the smallest things. You’re home! (Never mind that you only walked to the end of the driveway to pick up your mail.) It’s dinner time! (Never mind that dinner’s in the same food-dispensing toy you used yesterday.) It’s time for a walk! (Never mind that it’s the last walk before bedtime and you’re only going around your same old boring block.)

But excitement isn’t always so much fun.

When there’s conflict between housemate dogs, it often erupts when dogs get agitated, as during homecomings. Confined space – are your dogs all crowding up to be leashed for a walk? – can heighten tensions. If your dogs fight often, and especially if one or more dogs is causing injury, you need professional help, pronto. But if your problem is an occasional scuffle arising out of overexcitement, some basic manners training can help.

Teach each dog, individually, a rock-solid sit-stay, and use it to “park” them outside of one another’s personal space before trouble starts. A good alternative is a “Go to your bed” cue, with the dogs’ individual beds set up at a distance from the hot spots where arguments start. Finally, you can preempt your dogs from rushing up into a tight space by teaching them to stop or lie down on cue several feet away from you.

Dogs image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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